As Rangers’ hunt continues for a new manager, the dust is finally beginning to settle on that abrupt Steven Gerrard exit to Aston Villa.
Whilst some were immediately incredulous, others were more understanding, but how the dice falls may largely depend on how this season pans out and is likely to be somewhere in the middle regardless.
Steven Gerrard – a man many believed was the embodiment of the modern, pulsating, classy Rangers the club were rebuilding themselves as – uncharacteristically let supporters down.
The issue isn’t with the exit – the justification for this grows clearer by the day – but rather the manner of the soundbites all the way from 55 to only three weeks before his departure.
Talk of a Gerrard exit was “silly” by the manager’s own admission, Rangers fans had “nothing to worry about” after the club secured 55.
"Do I look happy? Do I look settled?"
Something tells us Rangers boss Steven Gerrard isn't tempted by a move away from Ibrox 😏
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 21, 2021
There is little doubt that Gerrard – and his backroom team – transformed Rangers and he deserves humongous credit (and status) in Rangers circles for doing so.
But the speedy nature of his departure combined with those pacifying soundbites leave his legacy somewhat tarnished.
There is also one aspect of the manager’s move to Premier League Aston Villa which has been tragically overstated; the suggestion Villa can compete with Rangers in size, stature and intensity.
Let’s be clear here – this is a move to a bigger league, not to a bigger club.
Steven Gerrard will find out quickly life at all-encompassing Rangers dwarfs cash-rich Aston Villa
Aston Villa have a rich and distinguished history – including a European Cup victory – but the swell of support and the constant engagement of the Rangers fans cannot be matched by the Holte End.
No matter how much supporters of Aston Villa might like to pretend otherwise, the club’s global reach is dwarfed by Rangers in the same way that only Man United and Liverpool can really rival us on domestic shores.
If Gerrard needs any evidence of the difference between Villa and Rangers he need only look to his first day at Ibrox.
Thousands descended to the stadium in the middle of the week just to welcome him. By contrast, Gerrard arrived at Villa Park without so much as a whimper.
Then there’s the immediate aftermath of the former Ibrox gaffer’s exit.
In the space of time since, Rangers fans are wearing out the skin on their thumbs refreshing social media and news feeds and thousands of them are tracking private jets with no real understanding of who is on them.
It’s manic – there are thousands and thousands of Rangers fans live right now, eager and waiting to find out their next boss as if their lives depended on it.
In contrast, Gerrard’s appointment at Villa was met with a shrug of the shoulders.
And that’s without even mentioning 55.
We mean no disrespect to the Villains – Rangers play a role in the club’s history after all – but fans are kidding themselves on if they’re comparing the Birmingham club’s support with the Rangers one.
When all is said and done, we’ll reflect on Gerrard’s tenure in many ways similarly to how bears of a certain vintage consider the likes of Graeme Souness.
But whilst there is a justification somewhere in the exit, the notion that life at Villa is anywhere near as intense or as all-encompassing as life at Rangers is as ludicrous as it is fundamentally incorrect.
Rangers fans may also have to contend with some of their biggest names leaving the club after Gerrard’s exit with one key player said to be a target for Aston Villa.